IN ITS counter to Rahul Gandhi’s claim that he has information on “personal corruption” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government described Rahul as a “laughing stock” and accused him of gagging the voices of 425 MPs of non-Congress parties.
“Rahul Gandhi knows his charge against PM is a damp squib and ab initio null and void,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said Thursday. “He has made himself a laughing stock. If he had any earthshaking or credible information, he could have even placed it on the floor of Parliament 20 days ago when the session began.”
The minister said all major parties except the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Left want a debate on demonetisation under rule 193, which does not entail voting. He said Rahul should take responsibility for “holding the voice of Parliament and gagging the voice of 425 MP s who wanted to discuss the issue”.
Among other ministers, Prakash Javadekar said the Congress has become a “commission agent” while the world has come to appreciate the PM’s “spotless character” in 2½ years. Kiren Rijiju said “it is the biggest joke of the year that Rahul Gandhi says Narendra Modi is scared of his oratory skills”. And Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Rahul Gandhi tells lies, he speaks baseless… He is the same person who kept quiet during the 10 years when the country, under Manmohan Singh government, was being looted.”
Asked about the Opposition’s demand that Rahul speak first in a debate on currency — if one is held — rather than Finance Minister Arun Jaitely whom the government would like to lead the debate, Ananth Kumar said, “All types of olive branches have been shown to them. They have turned the olive red.”
He said there is not one notice in Rahul’s name before the Speaker for discussion under any rule this session. “He said he came to Parliament with all homework. Homework starts with giving a notice in one’s name.”
The minister a number of “scams” during Congress rule — 2G, Bofors — and referred to a TV sting operation that purportedly shows Congress, SP, BSP, NCP and JD(U) MPs laundering money. “What is the response of the Congress vice president on this? It is happening right under his nose in the national headquarters of the party. After the news channel sting, today they have everything to hide, run away from the House. The Congress can have debate on notebandi and even note jugaad now,” he said.
He claimed “many members from different parties [in Lok Sabha] wanted to raise the issue of AgustaWestland but they could not.